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Use this framework to improve communications

In 1904, Frank Dukesmith, an American super salesman, suggested four steps that lead to a purchasing decision. The acronym AIDA was subsequently coined by CP Russell in an article in the journal Printers Ink in 1921 – How to write a sales making letter.

Making sure that communications have impact is one of the most difficult tasks of marketers. It's a hackneyed saying but there is a lot of truth in it that half the money we spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is we don't know which half.


Market research can help us fine-tune a promotional message. We can use the bull's-eye framework to figure out the essence of our brand. We can use the tipping point for targeting messages. The value proposition canvas will help us work out what we should be saying about our offer. All these are useful frameworks and they fit within the overarching AIDA model.


The AIDA model is tried and tested and helps us understand how we need to move through different levels of communication to achieve action.

The four steps in the AIDA model are as follows:

  • Awareness: this is the starting point of all effective communications. If people are not aware of a product they cannot be interested in it and no action can be taken. There are different levels of awareness.  When testing awareness in surveys it is normal to make a distinction between prompted and unprompted awareness. The prompted awareness figure is always a lot higher than the unprompted figure - and it is the unprompted level that really matters.

  • Interest: sufficient interest has to be built by the promotion to generate action. The offer has to be portrayed in a really appealing way by featuring the customer value proposition (CVP).

  • Desire: interest is warm but desire is hot. The customer must be moved to really wanting to acquire the product.

  • Action: this sales model aims to result in a transaction. In most cases it is hoped that the product will be purchased. However, there may be occasions when the model seeks to prompt a visit to a website or request a brochure.

The percentages shown on the left-hand side of the inverted triangle indicate how the effect of the communication declines as it gets closer to driving action.  These proportions will vary depending on the product and market. However, it is nearly always the case that only a small proportion of people who are aware of and interested in a product actually go ahead and buy it.

The AIDA framework's strength is its structured and sequential approach to communications. It guides marketers through the steps needed to move a potential customer from awareness to action. It shows what the objectives of the communication strategy should be at each stage, namely capturing attention, generating interest, creating desire, and prompting action. This clarity can help in designing targeted and effective communication strategies.

The AIDA model focuses on the stages of the customer's psychological journey and so allows marketers to align their messaging with the customer's decision-making process.

The framework can be applied to various types of communication channels and formats, including advertising, content marketing, sales presentations, and more. Its adaptability makes it versatile across different industries. Since AIDA is structured, it facilitates the measurement of results at each stage. Marketers can assess the effectiveness of their communication efforts by evaluating how well they capture attention, generate interest, create desire, and prompt action.

AIDA assumes a relatively rational decision-making process. However, many consumer decisions involve emotional and impulsive elements that are not fully addressed by the model.

AIDA primarily focuses on pre-purchase stages, and its emphasis diminishes after the action stage. In contemporary marketing, post-purchase engagement and customer retention are increasingly crucial, and other frameworks would need to come into play to provide adequate guidance in these areas.

All that said, the AIDA model is still a byword in advertising today. However, it is recognised that achieving a sale should not be an end in itself. Successful marketing is about building loyal customers and for this, satisfaction is important. This has led to some people modifying the acronym to AIDAS, the final S being for Satisfaction.

Some things to think about:

  • Who is my product (or service) aimed at – who is the target audience?

  • Will the promotion, grab the attention of the target audience?

  • Is the promotion relevant to the target audience?

  • Does the promotion drive to a course of action?

  • Another similar model is DAGMAR. Take a look at this on

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